Friday April 18th, 2014
Friday April 18th, 2014
Latest

The President’s conference: Between monarchy and secession

  /   in The Orbit 12:10 am   /   Comments

CONFAB

Skepticism continues to trail the on-going conference called by the President in Abuja to determine Nigeria’s future path. There questions of the legitimacy of the conference. Such a question has been raised because there is no obvious constitutional backing for the conference.

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Immigration deaths: The horror! the horror!!

  /   in The Orbit 12:16 am   /   Comments

*Pix. 4: Applicvants who could not find seats await further insatructions as others take seats to write the Nigeria Immigration Service examinations at the 60,000 capacity National Stadium, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida

My fourth-grade teacher – who was also my all-time favorite – Mrs. Beatrice Ohaka was a kindly and charming woman. In her most voluble moments she used to say to us kids: “you are the leaders of tomorrow. You will go to University or to England, and become important people. Do important things. Become teachers, doctors, engineers, journalists, professors; and you will make me proud.”

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National Conference, whose national conference?

  /   in The Orbit 12:05 am   /   Comments

confab-delegates

Once upon a time, in the land of the animals, a great famine had descended on the land. The earth could no longer yield her bounties, and so death, disease, and all manner of disasters became rife. It got to such a point when the animals agreed to convene a great gathering of all the animals to seek the cause of the earth’s anger and find a solution.

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Nigeria: A century of lies

  /   in The Orbit 3:00 am   /   Comments

From Left: Former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari; former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; President Goodluck Jonathan and former Head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, at the Centenary Dinner and Awards in Abuja on Friday (28/2/14). NAN

President Goodluck Jonathan’s government published the list of individuals it honored to mark Nigeria’s centenary and not unexpectedly it roused serious public umbrage. This administration is just simply plodding from one misstep into another, for in releasing that list, the Jonathan administration showed a total ignorance of history and the symbolism that accompanies every historical proclamation. Again, here, the president was offered poor guidance in the choices that he announced publicly.

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Sanusi: The President overstepped his constitutional powers

  /   in The Orbit 12:16 am   /   Comments

Former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi

A great drama is currently playing out in the federal government which might yet define the Jonathan presidency. It is a powerplay between the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and one of the most flamboyant public servants of the moment, Mr. Sanusi Lamido, Governor, quondam, of the Central Bank of Nigeria. On Thursday, the president, through a letter signed by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr. Pius Anyim, suspended Mr. Lamido from office as the Governor of the apex bank.

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The $20 Billion that would not go away

  /   in The Orbit 12:59 am   /   Comments

OIL REVENUE—Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (middle) answering questions from journalists, after an investigative hearing by the Senate committee on Finance on alleged unremitted oil revenue, at the National Assembly, in Abuja, yesterday. Photo: Gbemiga Olamikan.

At last the Federal government has committed to hiring independent Forensic Auditors to verify, and get to the roots of the persistent allegation of a missing $20 billion from the oil accounts. This move was announced on Thursday by Finance Minister and the Federal government’s Chief Treasurer, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at a press briefing following her appearance before the senate’s Finance Committee which had commenced investigations into the alleged missing funds.

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Notes Towards A National Conference (2)

  /   in The Orbit 12:22 am   /   Comments

national-conference

On Wednesday just past, the federal government, through the office of the Chief Secretary of State (Secretary to the Federal Government), announced the final guidelines for the proposed National Conference to be convened in Abuja, the federal capital. It might suffice here to summarize the modalities as announced by Mr. Anyim Pius Anyim: the conference is billed tentatively to last through three months of deliberation to be managed by a Conference Management Secretariat. Delegation to the conference would come from the six regional or geo-political areas as well as nominations from special interest groups, from “traditional rulers” to professional bodies, to Labour, to “Civil Society Groups.”

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APC and the escalating violence in Rivers State

  /   in The Orbit 12:27 am   /   Comments

Senator Abe taken to hospital

On Friday, Vanguard reported that the National Executive Committee of the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) directed its members in the National Assembly to block the passing of the appropriation bill and the confirmation hearings of the president’s new cabinet nominees and service appointments to the Nigerian High Command “until the federal government halts the escalating violence in Rivers State.”

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Is the President weak?

  /   in The Orbit 2:08 am   /   Comments

President Goodluck Jonathan (centre) inspecting parade during the Nigerian Army Day Celebration in Abuja On Saturday (6/7/13)

Not too long ago, in an interview granted to a newspaper, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, second republic member of the Federal House of Representatives, described the president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as a “nincompoop.” This utter lack of measure in his address of the President of the Republic did not elicit even a public reaction, least of all by the national press who ought to have reprimanded him. You may disagree and oppose the president of Nigeria, but to call the president a nincompoop is madness and an insult to the nation. Two weeks ago the Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso called Jonathan a “weak president,” and almost as though in lock step, the Central Bank governor, Mallam Sanusi, allegedly refused to resign in spite of the President’s request, whose trust he no longer enjoys. Mallam Sanusi had misled the nation in his leaked letter to the president alleging at first that the administration is unable to account for $49.8 billion from the oil revenues, and later modifying it to $10 billion, lost in the dark hole of the administration’s oil account.

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Heckling Stella Oduah

  /   in The Orbit 12:16 am   /   Comments

Stella Oduah

Anyone who accepts public office does so with the clear understanding that they no longer have a private life. Their lives belong thence to the public realm and come under consistent scrutiny. Stella Oduah, Minister for Aviation, surely must know this by now, and must therefore accept as a matter of course that whatever she places in the public domain must reflect the highest, unimpeachable, and verifiable truth about her life.

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Rochas Okorocha and his Vuvuzela admnistration in Imo

  /   in The Orbit 12:06 am   /   Comments

*Okorocha

The Lepata Mambu – common ly known now as “Vuvuzela” – is a noisemaking plastic horn which football fans now use to cheer on their team. It is South Africa’s contribution to the world of sports, and in many ways is an appropriate metaphor for the self-involved crass called governance in Imo state today under Governor Anayo “Rochas” Okorocha. One of the effects of the vuvuzela, aside from making loud noises, is that it can also cause a loss of hearing. Rochas Okorocha’s use of the political vuvuzela – what the Igbo would call “ndi Otimkpu” – paid, professional noisemakers – has probably caused him loss both of insight and hearing. Imo State is plodding along listlessly under misgovernance.

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Notes towards the National Conference (1)

  /   in The Orbit 12:04 am   /   Comments

national-conference

Nigeria is the successor state to all the pre-existing powers – the old, exhausted, crumbling and defeated empires, kingdoms, sultanates, and republican aristocracies and the city states that once reigned prior to amalgamation in 1914. It is the modern nation forged out of the colonial contact. From 1914 – 1963, this modern nation was a “British possession,” which means that if fell under the economic and political control of the British Empire. It had been granted self-governing status or independence by the British Empire on October 1, 1960, with the inauguration of the Prime Minister as head of its parliament under the British Commonwealth.

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To impeach the President

  /   in The Orbit 12:09 am   /   Comments

senate-Jonathan

Last week, Reuben Abati, presidential spokesman issued a full threat to those who are canvassing the impeachment of the president. He cautioned them against “treason.” Dr. Abati is wrong. You’d think that as former fire-eating newspaper columnist, the man who now speaks for the president would know the difference between the felony of treason and the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech. Speech is protected under the Nigerian bill of rights. It is one of those rights we fought for; why we chose democracy over tyranny. Those who are calling for the impeachment of the president cannot be accused of treason because they are expressing political thought and conscience.

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Aremu writes Goodluck

  /   in The Orbit 1:04 am   /   Comments

Obasanjo-letter

Now, you can’t touch: Mathew Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, General and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, former President of the Republic, ex-this and that, felt the pull in his patriotic heartstrings last week, and he penned a most acerbic letter to his “acolyte” – President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. General Obasanjo is known to rise to the occasion with his letters. He wrote Shagari, he wrote Buhari; he wrote the famous letter urging Babangida to “put a human face to SAP;” heck, he wrote to himself! Now, he has written Jonathan.

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The Logic of Opposition

  /   in The Orbit 1:00 am   /   Comments

The Nigerian political left is decimated, or at best lies flat on the ground like the lizard with a belly-ache. This fact itself makes one ask the question, what is the meaning of “opposition” in Nigeria, given that the field is absolutely dominated by politicians with the same fundamental worldviews about society? Extremely socially conservative and fiscally conservative, their political goals are far often too constrained by the immediate gratifications of power to warrant any ideological scrutiny in any case. Very often, a cohort of politicians gather together and call themselves “progressives” – and the term is indeed very ambiguous because no one actually knows from where they are progressing and to what

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Festus Iyayi’s death

  /   in The Orbit 12:30 am   /   Comments

Prof. Iyayi

It’s again, one of those sad weeks in Nigeria, when tragedy struck and coloured the already melancholic landscape of our lives. The true nature of tragedy is that it is always that quiet, preventable death at an obscure bend in the road. The killing last week of novelist, scholar, and labor activist, Festus Iyayi is that kind of tragedy: his death is a totally needless and preventable death. If he had not been compelled to rush off to Kano to sign-off on the final negotiations between the Federal government and the striking union of Nigerian University professors, perhaps he’d still be alive today in Benin city.

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The scandal in Aviation: Fani-Kayode and matters arising

  /   in The Orbit, Viewpoint 1:05 pm   /   Comments

FEMI FANI KAYODE

The columnist’s obligation is oftentimes to lay to rest ghosts of miscreant sentiments often imported to distort public issues by people who also sometimes hyperventilate on non-issues.

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Umuahians meet in New Jersey

  /   in The Orbit 12:05 am   /   Comments

Annually, for the past decade, the alumni of the Government College Umuahia in the United States and Canada meet under the auspices of the Government College Umuahia Old boys Association, the GCUOBA-USA, to discuss the situation of their alma mater, find possible solutions, generally keep the flag flying, and while they are at it, loosen their collars a bit. These are very busy men and they come with their equally busy spouses – those honorary and graceful Umuahians we call “young girls” perhaps because they defy gravity and age – who have been pillars of support for both the old school and their alum-husbands.

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The scandal in Aviation

  /   in The Orbit 1:21 am   /   Comments

stella-cars1

I like Stella Oduah. Her fierce feline eyes – those bold saucers by which we enter into her soul –leaves one in no doubt that she is a force of nature. It is not for nothing that she is considered one of the most powerful ministers in the Jonathan administration. As minister for Aviation, she has certainly taken very bold steps; made tough and demanding decisions, and accomplished quite some visible milestones.

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Fashola and the image of the East

  /   in The Orbit 12:03 am   /   Comments

Fashola

At the Aka-Ikenga dinner celebrating the founding of this association of Igbo fat cats in Lagos, Governor Raji Fashola, either out of postprandial volubility, or in a bid to be charming among friends, or even as some have suggested, enhance the political fortunes of his friend and fellow partisan, Dr. Chris Ngige in Anambra, offered what had been termed an “unreserved apology” to the Igbo. His apology was for the apparent mischief of selectively targeting and “deporting” some Igbo to Onitsha in one of the most unprecedented constitutional gaffes in Nigeria.

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Kofi Awoonor: This Earth My Brother

  /   in News, The Orbit 12:08 am   /   Comments

kofi-awoonor

George Kofi Awoonor-Williams became just Kofi Awoonor. He chose to be piquant and to shed the vestiges, at the same time, of his colonial past. He died last week. He was 78 years. He did not die from age related problems. He was still quite active; mentally alert and vigorous. He was killed in the Nairobi terrorist event staged by Al Shabaab, the Somali equivalent of Boko Haram, which had taken over the Westgate Mall, a high end shopping Mall in Nairobi last week, and massacred mall visitors. By last count, the death toll from the four-day siege and holdout had been officially put at seventy-two people. More are suspected to be crushed under the rubble of the collapsed mall, and therefore unaccounted.

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Disband Nigeria?

  /   in The Orbit 12:44 am   /   Comments

*Fani-Kayode

While he was enjoying the perks of public office, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode did not call for the break-up of Nigeria; he in fact earned a reputation as an attack-dog for the president and the government of the day, which for him was the meaning of Nigeria. A child of privilege, Mr. Fani-Kayode has, it seems, often taken it for granted that Nigeria would always carter to his desires. It was not, as is often expected of his peers in other places, about public service. It was always about the convenience of his claims to unearned privileges. His father, the late Remilekun, was a great prop for privilege too. He trained as a lawyer in Cambridge. Even made a decent second. But his greatest accomplishment was not alas in law; it was in politics and the vice that accompanies it.

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The war-like tribe of the PDP

  /   in The Orbit 12:00 am   /   Comments

PDP5

The party in government – the PDP – has splintered into two factions: one still “dey kampe” as the “main PDP,” and caucuses around the president, Goodluck Jonathan and the Party chair, Bamanga Turkur; the new PDP has former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as its moving spirit, with a coterie of rebel governors and affiliates opening new offices for the “New PDP” in a move at establishing dual authority within the party.

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The nationality question

  /   in The Orbit 12:00 am   /   Comments

File photo

What does it mean to be a Nigerian? This question may seem clearly resolved in the Nigerian constitution: anyone born, whose forebears as at October 1 1960, had roots in any portion of the land which as at January 1914 became amalgamated as the Union of the old protectorates of Southern and Northern Nigeria. Such a person is a Nigerian by birth and has every right pertaining thereto that affiliation guaranteed under the bill of rights. But there are cleavages in the national imagination that make this question increasingly unresolved and academic.

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The third tier question

  /   in The Orbit 12:07 am   /   Comments

Good-govt

The place of the third-tier government, that is local government administration in Nigeria, has remained the thorniest and contentious issue in Nigerian federalism. It has to be, principally because it actually has led to general distortions in public service delivery at the most crucial levels of government.

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ASUU and Nigerian universities have gone to seeds

  /   in The Orbit 12:20 am   /   Comments

asuu-fg

Next June, it would be exactly a quarter of a century since my graduating class left the University of Jos. We had been admitted into the University of Jos in the middle of the 1980s, just at the cusp of the end of the term of Professor Emmanuel U. Emovon as Vice-Chancellor.

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The bitter truth about Femi Fani-Kayode

  /   in The Orbit 12:47 am   /   Comments

*Fani-Kayode

I read with a lot of amusement the piece of clap-trap circulated through the Nigerian blogosphere last week titled ‘The Bitter truth about the Igbo” authored by Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode.

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More tales out of Lagos

  /   in The Orbit 12:00 am   /   Comments

*Gov Fashola

Last week, I drew the attention of readers of the “Orbit” to theunconstitutional action of the Lagos state government in deporting sixty-seven Nigerians to Onitsha. That action in my view marks the lowest point, since the end of the Nigerian civil war, in the effort at nation-building. The Lagos state government under the ACN Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, seems to be highly charged and fueled by a strange form of paranoid xenophobia; a need to cleanse the streets of Lagos of “strangers.”

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Lagos: Deportation is lawless, vexatious

  /   in The Orbit 12:15 am   /   Comments

*Sranded persons numbering about 70 allegedly dumped at the upper axis of Onitsha, Anambra State at about 3:20 a.m. by unknown persons, yesterday. PHOTO: NAN. lSee story on page 14.

Once again, the Lagos state government deported Nigerians from a Nigerian state; an action that is as lawless as it is vexatious. Newspaper reports last week indicated that the Lagos authorities out of possibly excessive enthusiasm, and certainly out of pitiable ignorance and overreach, rounded up all manners of the city poor from the streets, sixty-seven of them, put them in a vehicle, and transported them across the bridge to Onitsha, Anambra state.

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A nation of nay-sayers

  /   in The Orbit 12:20 am   /   Comments

Soyinka

Last week, Professor Wole Soyinka, our world-renowned playwright and Nobel laureate for literature inserted himself in a very unseemly way in the rage in Rivers state. In many regions of the world, Soyinka is known much more for his defiance than for his art. In fact, he has turned nay-saying into an industry and into an art.

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Jonathan and the hounds

  /   in The Orbit 12:10 am   /   Comments

Jonathan

As readers of the “Orbit” are bound to notice, this column has been on furlough for the past six weeks. I came to Nigeria to bury Chinua Achebe, and I had taken a break afterwards to vacation and do some research. I have interest currently in writing the biography of the poet, statesman, leader of the African anti-colonial movement in the 20th century, and Nigeria’s first president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.

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